Category Archives: Pictures

A post containing pictures

Grass Snake going for a swim on the canal

Having only taken pictures from my windows for a few weeks I ventured out along the Kennet and Avon Canal when the lockdown restrictions were eased a bit. I stopped near Frouds Lane to try to take a few pictures of birds crossing the canal. That wasn’t very successful. I was just about to leave when I got lucky, although not with a bird. I noticed some motion on the other side of the canal and suddenly a Grass Snake swimming across the canal came into view:

I must admit I didn’t know that snakes can swim until I saw this one doing it. This snake had to cross the canal twice (and did it quite easily it seems): It came across only to realise that on the other side was a retaining wall about 2 ft high, so it couldn’t get out. It had a brief look, then turned around and swam back where it disappeared into the undergrowth (no wall on that side). The tongue was nicely visible several times and the head nicely reflected/mirrored on the water. I hope you like and enjoy these pictures. I certainly enjoyed the moment and watching the snake.

Birds and more from my windows

During the first several weeks of the Coronavirus lockdown I wasn’t able to go out with my camera. As I live in a flat and therefore don’t have a garden I couldn’t even go out into the garden and take pictures there. Still, I did have my windows (including the door of my “fake balcony”) and I managed to take a few pictures from there. Here are some of the better ones:

Nothing spectacular, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Sparrows are what I mainly see from my window. But also a distant Heron at the top of some trees around a nearby pond. Also some insects collecting pollen. And a beautiful clear Moon in the afternoon light.

Steam Train passing Aldermaston Station

After the (luckily short) heat wave this week it was pleasantly cool this Saturday morning, also a bit damp as it had rained most of the night and still hadn’t fully stopped by the time I decided to leave for the train station. For it was time to watch and photograph another steam train passing Aldermaston Station.

Since the electrification of the line watching steam trains passing through isn’t the same any more, but then again some progress is necessary and I certainly prefer the electric trains over the old stinking and noisy Diesels we had before.

I haven’t bothered looking up the details of the steam engine pulling the train today, I hope you’ll still enjoy the pictures without that information. If you do know more about the locomotive feel free to leave the information in the comments.

Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins

As promised yesterday, today I made the third batch/version of muffins. After the Cherries & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins and the Dark Chocolate & Almond Muffins it was time for Blueberries and Dark Chocolate Chips today.

Picture of Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins (before baking)
Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins (before)

The ingredients were essentially the same as for the Cherries & Dark Chocolate ones, replacing the cherries with blueberries:

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g fresh blueberries, washed
  • 200g dark (70%) chocolate chips
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150ml pot natural yoghurt
  • 100g butter, melted

Making them was also very similar:

  • Preheat oven to fan assisted 180°C, (200°C, gas 6)
  • paper cases in 12 hole muffin tin
  • sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into large bowl, stir in chocolate and sugar
  • beat eggs, add yoghurt, then molten butter. Add this mixture to the flour etc
  • add in the washed blueberries
  • stir to combine, but do not “overmix” (it’s fine if it’s a bit lumpy. Apparently if you “overmix” the muffins will turn out tough)
  • fill the mixture into the papercases and then bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown

Same as before the whole process took just over an hour. Again some will go into the freezer, some will be eaten over the next few days. And one I’ve eaten just now while writing this. Tasted very nice.

Picture of Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins (after baking)
Blueberry & Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins (after)

I’ll take a break from them now, I’ve got enough in the freezer for a while. But I’m sure I’ll be making some again. For now I’ve got two breads in the oven, baking away.

Dark Chocolate and Almond Muffins

Following on from the Cherry and Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins from last weekend I decided to bake some more. This time I decided to improvise a bit to make some Dark Chocolate and Almond Muffins. I actually made them on Thursday, but only get round to write it up today.

Picture of Dark Chocolate and Almond Muffins in a muffin tray
Dark Chocolate and Almond Muffins (1)

Still based on the other recipe I replaced several of the ingredients, here’s what I used:

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g chopped almonds
  • 150g dark (70%) chocolate chips
  • 50g fine dark cocoa powder (100% cocoa solids)
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • approx 17ml Moroccan Almond Extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150ml pot natural yoghurt
  • 100g butter, melted

And making them followed pretty much the same process again:

  • Preheat oven to fan assisted 180°C, (200°C, gas 6)
  • paper cases in 12 hole muffin tin
  • sift flour and bicarbonate of soda into large bowl, stir in almonds, chocolate chips, cocoa powder and sugar
  • beat eggs, add yoghurt, then molten butter and almond extract. Add this mixture to the flour etc
  • stir to combine, but do not “overmix” (it’s fine if it’s a bit lumpy. Apparently if you “overmix” the muffins will turn out tough)
  • fill the mixture into the papercases and then bake for 20-25 minutes until risen

Same as before, took just over half an hour to make. I think they turned out very nice, although I have to say they are quite heavy. The chocolate and almonds are a nice combination I think, really like it.

Picture of Dark Chocolate and Almond Muffins on a rack
Dark Chocolate and Almond Muffins (2)

Some I put into the freezer for later, some I took into the office for Friday afternoon refreshments, some I’m eating this weekend. And if everything goes to plan I’ll make some Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Chips muffins on Sunday.